Tomorrow morning, I'm on my way to Killer Nashville, a mystery writers' conference iin Tennessee, where I'll be sitting on a couple of panels. I have to tell you, I've worked my fanny off so that I might appear to be someting of an expert on these subjects.
The first panel is on Cutting the Fluff. The problem with this subject is that what's fluff for one reader is fodder for another. I'm h0ping their definition of Fluff is needless words, overdone backstory and excessive description, because some of each is necessary to pull your readers into the plot. Literary fiction can contain more meandering than genre fiction. Mystery and suspense readers will shut your book the minute you begin to wander. They want a page turner.
Which brings me to my second panel, the one on Pacing. Since it's a mystery writers conference, I assume they'll focus on pacing in mystery and suspense novels. You might think the pace should start out intense and remain that way, but I have to disagree.
I once served as a judge for the Mystery Writers of America/St. Martin's Minotur First Crime Novel contest, quite a mouthful to say. I read thirty-six manuscripts submitted by hopeful aspiring authors. Some were too long--publishers are looking for first novels of about 300 pages, a few were really bad, but the majority were good, better than some on the things I've written. One was a heart-stopper that grabbed you by the throat on page one and didn't let g0 until the end. It was a good novel, but something felt "off" about it. It took quite a while to figure out what it was.
I finished this particular novel exhausted. To keep your readers reading, you need your pace to resemble an EKG graph: extreme highs followed by lows. Your readers need a chance to take a breath between crises or you'll wear them out. Good pacing is knowing when to ramp up the action and when to slow it down.
Well, I've rambled on about these subjects for long enough. The exercise has allowed me to clarify my thoughts, and I'm grateful to you for listening.
Live, Love, WRITE!
Causes Lynda Fitzgerald Supports
German Shepherd Dog Rescue, World Wildlife Federation, ASPCA, Atlanta Humane Society